33 reasons 2016 wasn’t all bad

metronomy

I’ve collected my favourite songs from last year in a 2 hours and 8 minutes long playlist. That might sound long. But that’s before you start listening, here.

  1. Frida Hyvönen – Imponera på mig (First single and an immediate female empowerment classic from one of the best Swedish language albums in years.)
  2. Metronomy – Night Owl (2016’s best pop song from England’s most under-rated pop song masters.)
  3. Kanye West – Waves (Say what you will about his person, but his musical genius is undisputed. This is just one example from a brilliant album)
  4. Tindersticks – Second Chance Man (Perhaps last year’s most important song on a personal level, a brooding theme song for my own self reflection.)
  5. Snakeships, Anderson Paak – Money On Me (2016’s best argument to buy a convertible or move to the US West Coast.)
  6. Frank Ocean – Nikes (The musical universe on ‘Solo’ took a while to get into, but when Frank sings “I’ll let you guys prophesy, we’ve gone see the future first” it’s an apt metaphor for the level he is operating at.)
  7. Willie West – I’m Still A Man (Lord Have Mercy) (Released by a Finnish label (!) in the autumn on 2015 – with the instrumental version appearing in the trailer for the 2016 film Paterson – this minimalist soul jam about being left for another man, sung with verve by 78 year old Willie West, is retro soul at its absolute best.
  8. Blood Orange – Best to You (Perhaps 2016’s most immediate start to a song, which is then followed by Dev Hynes’ melodic and airy disco funk sounds.)
  9. Håkan Hellström – Pärlor (A shameless attempt by Sweden’s biggest artist to become Bruce Springsteen, but as an outcast anthem it’s impossible to discard.)
  10. Angel Olsen – Intern (She used to be a bit too brooding, but on her 2016 album Angel got the balance just right. “I don’t care what the papers say, it’s just another intern with a resume” is one of my favourite lines from last year.)
  11. Anderson Paak – Come Down (2016’s best Kendrick Lamar replacement.)
  12. Rae Sremmurd, Gucci Mane – Black Beatles (A frustratingly uneven duo, but when they get it right, as they did with this unexpected mega hit, they‘re addictive.)
  13. Parquet Courts – Human Performance (This arty Brooklyn post-punk orchestra keeps moving the needle forward in their own way, here with one of last year’s best guitar driven choruses.)
  14. Amanda Bergman – Blue Eyes (One of my favourite voices in music, this is a slow burner that seems ready made for driving at night.)
  15. Skepta – Shutdown (The definite London anthem of 2016 (even though it came out in 2015); an in your face aggressive and hilarious flag bearer for the current grime revival.)
  16. Nick Waterhouse (feat. Leon Bridges) – Katchi (unapologetically catchy retro rnb/funk from a ridiculously underrated artist.)
  17. Eleanor Friedberger – Open Season (Perfect 70s sounding easy listening rock, a playful nod to Neil Young’s masterpiece ‘On the Beach’.)
  18. Basia Bulat – Infamous (A perfectly crafted folk pop number with a strong chorus that I thought would (and should) become a hit.)
  19. The Comet is Coming – Space Carnival (Psychedelic jazz funk is not normally my cup of tea, but Space Carnival packs one of the catchiest trumpets I’ve ever heard. One of the most pleasant surprises last year.)
  20. Alexis Taylor – I’m ready (The Hot Chip singer’s album is a minimalistic gem that is about the most soothing thing to be released in 2016. Beautiful, understated and underrated.)
  21. Vince Staples – Pimp Hand (Perennially angry and publicly feuding West Coast rapper who continues to avoid melodies and catchy hooks, which is just fine with rap skills like these.)
  22. Maria Andersson – Lift Me Up (2016’s best build-up, it’s actually pretty much all build-up, wrapped around one repeated verse.)
  23. Pusha T – H.G.T.V. Freestyle (Dry beat, dry flow, ominous base, and that excellent rhyme “9 to 5 money is just as sweet as the grave shift / El presidenté, Blowbama, blow by ya /Chopper next to me in every picture, Osama”.)
  24. Klangstof – Hostage (Smooth. Ridiculously smooth.)
  25. Fekky, Giggs – Gossip (2016’s best siren/gunshot/cowbell grime tune.)
  26. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD” (It seemed too ambitious and convoluted at first, but the emotions that Bon Iver manage to evoke are simple and difficult to escape.)
  27. PARTYNEXTDOOR (feat. Drake ) – Come and See Me (Turns out that this year’s best Drake song was not made by Drake, although he did play his part in this relationship melodrama.)
  28. Lambchop – NIV (These alt country veterans deliver a surprisingly light and catchy gem with some brilliant synth hooks and unexpected auto tune.)
  29. Okkervil River – Okkervil River R.I.P. (What better way to return to form than with a lighter sound and an eulogy for your own band?)
  30. Peter Bjorn & John – Breakin’ Point (another lecture in pop song writing from my Swedish favourites.)
  31. Lee Fields & The Impressions – Never Be Another You (Lee Field’s old man soul continues to hit a nerve with his honesty, brilliant band and a voice that has lived.)
  32. Marlon Williams – Dark Child (Retro alt-country that makes the most of Marlon’s voice, an effortless croon that is difficult not to get caught up in.)
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You must be somewhere in London, walking every lane

I’m going to London. Without my computer. I’ve forgotten about real life and I guess nothing is really real in London but that is where I will be walking. I’ve fallen asleep against too many moving Swedish landscapes. Been sitting glued in front of the computer as the snow has been falling. I’ve written things I will never be able to send to anyone. Its nothing dramatic, just a trip with some friends. The kind of thing real life is about. Here are three necessary London songs. For those of you not coming.

It takes an ocean not to break

So I forgot the shape of my plan, listened to Frida Hyvönen, pulled myself into my project, stressed out, walked windy streets, made inquiries, felt I was loosing grip, the hours were racing. My heart tried to slow it down, I tried to breath slower. I stared at questions. The days were numbered, and where the numbers came from I don’t know. All I knew is that there were wrong. So I worked, and I got a call. Just the call I needed. Sometimes things just work out just when you need it.’ I’ve had the same feeling’ my Spanish friend told me when we cruised the dark highway between Malaga and Granada this past Monday. The work and plan fell into place cause they had to, cause there was no more time. I went to Göteborg, worked some more, had some brunch in my friends funky apartment. Saw Wu-Tang Clan do a tired set while talking about weed and women. They had humor, I smoked cigarettes, let the work drift off me.

Saw The National, and Matt Berninger was drinking enormous amounts of white wine just as he did when I saw them for the first time five years ago among a hungover and tiny Zürich crowd. He sang ‘It takes an ocean not to break’ and I didn’t want to hear anything else that night after the show. A few hour later I stood dancing in front of LCD Soundsystem, there is no plan that cannot change. Then M.I.A. rolled in the the beautiful forest with her gunshots and completely crazy live show (see picture above).

It was a few days after I almost broke down, when I questioned my own legs and my mind was sitting next to me, shaking its head. Now I shook my head to some of my favorite music. Life is about the small moments, the pockets of utter happiness. I walked into the world and as I sit in an apartment in Granada, with the 40 degree heat outside listening to Stone Roses while drinking cheap beer I am no longer looking for a plan, just a pocket of something to fill the freedom with.